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NDS claims journalists arrested in Kandahar for ‘collaborating’ with Taliban



(Last Updated On: August 1, 2021)

The Afghan National Directorate of Security (NDS) stated Sunday that four journalists were arrested in southern Kandahar province this week for “collaborating” with the Taliban militants.

The journalists – three reporters from Nation Voice [Millat Ghag] Radio, Bismillah Watandost, Qudratullah Sultani, and Mohibullah Obaidi; and Sanullah Siam who claimed to be working with China’s Xinhua news agency – were arrested after they visited the Spin Boldak border crossing last week after it had been seized by the Taliban.

In a statement issued on Sunday, the NDS said the reporters met and interviewed Taliban leaders and Pakistan spy agency (ISI) officials – including Mullah Gul Agha and Mawlavi Manzor Taliban spy chiefs; General Mobin and Faizullah, two members of ISI; and Mullah Yaqoob, the son of former Taliban leader Mullah Omar.

The meeting reportedly took place in the house of former Kandahar Police Chief General Abdul Raziq Spin Boldak in Kandahar province.

The NDS stated that the reporters wanted to “purify” the Taliban and “to ignore the inhuman acts of this terrorist group in some provinces of the country, especially the tragic events in Spin Boldak region so as to direct the public opinion in favor of the Taliban.”

The NDS stated that the Nation Voice [Millat Ghag] Radio Station was illegally operating as it has no license from the Ministry of Culture and Information.

Meanwhile, Xinhua rejected Sanaullah Siam’s claim that he was working for the news agency.

“Hereby Xinhua denies the claim made by Mr. Sayam (Siam) as Sayam is not the employee of Xinhua. In the meantime, Xinhua confirms that Mr. Sayam as a freelancer used to sell his products and Xinhua like other news agencies sometimes used to buy photos from him, and buying photos in no way means that Sayam is Xinhua’s staff,” the agency said in a statement.

The NDS stated that Siam was illegally operating under Xinhua’s name.

“Recently, Bismillah Watandost had a mission to make contact with Kandahar governor and encourage him to hand over the province to the Taliban so that they (Taliban) hold Eid prayers in the Kandahar government compound; therefore, Kandahar governor in a letter urged the Kandahar NDS directorate office to arrest these reporters,” the NDS claimed.

This comes after human rights and media freedom advocates last week called on authorities in Afghanistan to release the four journalists.

But Human Rights Watch (HRW) said in a statement late Friday that “as the Afghan conflict escalates, all parties seem intent on silencing the country’s media.”

“Unless charged with a genuine crime, the four journalists should be released immediately,” the statement read.

Reports indicate that the four traveled to the district to investigate reports of Afghan civilian killings by Taliban insurgents.

According to HWR, Siam is a free-lance cameraman.

“The arrests …underscore rising concerns the Afghan government is trying to shield itself from media criticism. Among the many threats they face, Afghanistan’s embattled journalists should not also have to face prosecution for doing their jobs,” said HWR.

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Kabul’s air pollution a serious ‘threat to life’, say doctors



(Last Updated On: December 5, 2021)

Doctors warned Sunday that the air pollution level in Kabul is dangerously high and that it was threatening the lives of many people.

One doctor Mohammad Hashim Wahaj, who spoke to Ariana News, said: “Air pollution is a serious and dangerous problem in Kabul.”

Doctors and resident’s called on government to take measures to stop people from burning fuels such as plastic and rubber and get them to rather use gas or electricity.

“People burn coal and other materials that produce smoke. That should be stopped,” said Mohammad Rasoul, a Kabul resident.

“People should use gas and electricity if they can afford it and avoid burning plastic and coal,” said Sohrab, another Kabul resident.

Kabul Municipality meanwhile said efforts are being made to reduce the air pollution level and that they have closed down a number of bathhouses, that burn fuel to heat the water.

Naimatullah Barakzai, the municipality’s head of public awareness and publications department, said that among the central heating systems used in the city are two that run on gas.

According to him there are at least 1,100 other types but these run on coal and wood.

Barakzai said while the municipality would like more people to use gas furnaces and heaters, most of them are not able to afford it.

He said if the people had the money they would rather use “modern equipment”.

Kabul’s air pollution levels increase dramatical each winter as people make fires to keep warm. But, poverty-stricken residents often resort to burning toxic materials such as plastic, car tyres and coal to heat their homes.

In addition to this, the city lies in a valley surrounded by towering Hindu Kush mountain peaks, which reduces the mixing of air, particularly in winter when temperature inversions regularly form and with little rain to remove the pollution from the atmosphere, this accumulates during winter.

Afghanistan documented nearly 5,000 deaths attributed to air pollution in 2020 – deaths due to respiratory and heart diseases that were considered to be caused by air pollution, a health official said in January.

Kabul meanwhile was also considered the world’s worst polluted city last year and is on track to remain among the most polluted cities in 2021.

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Qatar in talks with Turkey on managing Kabul Airport



(Last Updated On: December 5, 2021)

Qatar’s foreign minister said that discussions are being held with Turkey about them taking responsibility for the operational control of Kabul International Airport.

Addressing the Mediterranean Dialogues (MED) forum in Rome on Saturday, Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani said that all issues around fully reopening Kabul airport are being discussed with Turkish officials.

This comes after airlines stopped flying into Kabul at the end of August. However, limited commercial flights resumed in recent weeks, including Afghanistan’s Kam Air and Ariana Airlines, as well as Pakistan’s PIA. Qatar Airways has also had regular chartered flights into Kabul.

Al-Thani meanwhile said Doha officials have been hard at work to get the Kabul airport fully operational.

“We have been working together very closely on the issue of the airport, whether on the assessment of requirements to get the airport operational again, or on the management agreement with the Taliban (Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan) government to operate the airport in the future.”

Afghanistan Civil Aviation Authority (ACAA) said that in the event of a contract being drawn up with a foreign country, national interests will be preserved.

“No contract for Kabul International Airport has been signed so far. We have made our conditions clear for companies based on our national interests. If company’s respect our national interests, we will sign contracts with them,” said Amamudin Ahmadi, a spokesman for the ACAA.


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Passport offices to open in another 14 provinces: IEA



(Last Updated On: December 5, 2021)

The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) said Sunday that government will begin the application and distribution process of passports in 14 additional provinces this week.

According to the IEA, the distribution process will start in Farah, Nimruz, Badghis, Paktika, Samangan, Laghman, Uruzgan, Kunar, Takhar, Zabul, Jawzjan, Bamiyan, Panjsher, and Baghlan provinces on Monday.

Alam Gul Haqqani, Head of the Passport Department, stated the department is providing fair services to all Afghans, and urged the public not to pay passport forgers money.

Haqqani added that the distribution of passports in Kabul would be resumed as soon as technical issues have been resolved.

“We have purchased new machines. As I have said before, some of these [machines] arrived, and the rest will be delivered [in the future]. Inshallah, we will resume our work as soon as we receive our machines,” Haqqani said.

The process of issuing passports also started in Balkh, Herat, Kandahar, Kunduz, Nangarhar, Khost and Paktia provinces three weeks ago.

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